Today there are 175 million users on LinkedIn and chances are you may already be a member but are not using it to its full potential. Of the top three social networks –Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn—only LinkedIn concentrates on connecting business professionals. According to LinkedIn, members did nearly 4.2 billion professionally-oriented searches on the platform in 2011 and are on pace to surpass 5.3 billion in 2012; its corporate hiring solutions are used by 82 of the Fortune 100 companies; and more than 2 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages.
LinkedIn isn’t just a powerful job search tool; it is also a great tool for business development, competitive research and analysis, and networking through its one million groups. Here are 16 tips to use LinkedIn effectively.
- Sign up and complete your LinkedIn profile. If you are not yet on LinkedIn, sign up and fill out your profile. Make sure to fill it out completely and also add a picture of yourself. A complete profile makes it easier for potential partners, customers and prospective employers to find you.
- Don’t neglect your headshot. Although it may not seem a big deal to you, if your ultimate goal is to use LinkedIn to network a profile with a LinkedIn photo is “seven times more likely to be viewed” according to Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s Connection Director. Make sure it’s a flattering head shot and only includes you.
- Search for and add your business connections. Many people never make it to this step and unfortunately nothing looks worse than a bare profile with few contacts. To speed the process of adding connections, you can select “Add Connections” and LinkedIn can send out invitations to those you correspond with through email or you can enter the email addresses of your contacts.
- Decide on your strategy for making new connections. One school of thought is to only connect with people that you actually know while another school of thought is to connect with everyone who asks to connect. My opinion is somewhere in between. I accept invitations to connect only if the person requesting to connect is someone that isn’t just blindly sending me an invite, makes sense for me to connect with and has a legitimate profile. After all, you need to make sure as best you can you are protecting yourself and your contacts from spammers.
- Make sure to add some recommendations from others once your profile is complete. The easiest way to get a recommendation is to give a recommendation. Search your contacts for those you want a recommendation from and give them one first. On LinkedIn the recommendations you receive really set you apart from others and make you appear more credible. Make sure you get at least three recommendations. Many jobs advertised on LinkedIn require applicants to have at least three recommendations in order to be reviewed.
- List your skills and expertise. This is a fairly new feature from LinkedIn but it makes your profile so much more searchable. Look though your resume and perhaps the skills required for your dream job –that you of course possess—and list them here.
- Customize your LinkedIn URL. LinkedIn assigns each profile a URL with a bunch of numbers and texts in it. To get a clean URL you can customize it for your public profile which will help Google bring you up more quickly in a search. Go to “Profile” page and then select “Edit” next to “Public Profile.” Select the URL you want.
- Delete an unwanted connection. It happens. Deleting a contact you no longer want is pretty straight forward and best of all they will not be notified. Once you are logged into your profile select “Contacts” and on the far right you have two options: “Add Connections” and “Remove Connections”. Click “Remove Connections” and then check the box of the contact you want to drop, click OK and it is done.
- Activate your blog from LinkedIn. If you have a blog and are taking the time to keep it updated make sure to publicize it through LinkedIn. By adding a widget from LinkedIn for your blog –both WordPress and Bloglink are supported– you can automatically display your latest posts. Your business blog is a great way to show your connections and prospects that you are in expert in your field.
- Don’t forget to showcase your favorite presentations. In addition to sharing your blog posts, the Slideshare app allows you to add your favorite presentations to LinkedIn. This is another great opportunity to showcase your expertise to the world.
- Hide your status updates from prying eyes. If you are looking for a job while still employed, you may not want to let all your connections know each time you make a new contact. You can fly under the radar by clicking “Settings” underneath your name on the right side of the screen. Next select “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts” and uncheck the box and don’t forget to “save changes.” When you’re ready for everyone to see your updates again make sure to reverse the process.
- Start sleuthing by making yourself anonymous. If you want to do some serious undercover work on LinkedIn and don’t want the people you are researching to know you have been digging around, you can go into stealth mode by switching your profile to anonymous. Simply go to Settings>Privacy Controls>Select what others can see when you’ve viewed their profile. Now, select one of the following three options: your name and headline; an anonymous profile with some characteristics including industry and title or being totally anonymous. Just remember when you are done “researching” to revert back to your name and profile.
- Make use of your personal updates. Have something to share with your connections like news about your company or something you would like to promote to your connections? Add it to the update box along with a link. This is then automatically shared to all your connections. In the event a connections.
- Make sure to create a “Business” page. The LinkedIn business page is a good way to publicize your business to your LinkedIn connections.
- Join groups on LinkedIn. By joining groups on LinkedIn in your industry you can meet others in your field and potentially add them as contacts as well. Also see if your alumni group is there as well. LinkedIn lets you join up to 50 groups.
- Make use of your personal updates. Have something to share with your connections like news about your company or something you would like to promote to your connections? Add it to the update box along with a link. This is then automatically shared to all your connections. In the event a connection comments on your post or likes it, your post is then shared among their connections.
What are your favorite LinkedIn tips?